Vampire Owl: It has been some time since the last war movie had released.
Vampire Bat: You remember that Kandahar with the same character in the leading role was released in 2010.
Vampire Owl: And the last movie with soldiers at border in Picket 43 of 2015.
Vampire Bat: The director did act in Anarkali and Action Hero Biju after that though.
Vampire Owl: I have been looking forward to our own war here though.
Vampire Bat: You mean to talk about expanding the vampire territory beyond the current borders.
Vampire Owl: Yes, you know that it has always been my patriotic intention. The zombie minions are trained for the same.
Vampire Bat: They are trained, but that doesn’t supply the brains.
Vampire Owl: We are buying them at the Goblin Market at fifty five percent discount.
Vampire Bat: That explains the never-ending preparation for war.
[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn and vegetable puffs].
What is the movie about? :: Colonel Mahadevan (Mohanlal) is fighting with the United Nations troops in Georgia. There, his team saves the lives of a group of Pakistani soldiers who have also been fighting for the United Nations. After some friendly chat, Mahadevan invites the Pakistani troops to their battle honours day, an invitation which they seem to accept. While the programme is going on, it is revealed that Mahadevan’s father, Major Sahadevan (Mohanlal) had fought a battle against the Pakistani commander’s father, Mohammed Akram Raja (Arunoday Singh), in the 1971 Indo-Pak War for Bangladesh, and it had resulted in the death of the commander on the losing side. There is also more than that happened during those days of war, and we see Sahadevan narrating the same story to his grandchildren accompanied by his wife, Parvathy Sahadevan (Asha Sarath).
So, what happens next? :: Sahadevan is going through a holiday and some fun time with his friends at his hometown, when the news about the war reaches him. He decides to leave early before the telegram arrives, much to the dismay of his wife, son and all others who hoped for his presence there for a longer period of time. The same is the case of many other soldiers, especially Sudharshan (Krishna Kumar) whose father is extremely ill. The path ahead seems to be difficult for his team, as this is not the usual war for territorial gains, and the presence of a strong enemy force at their area makes things tougher – but there are some brave, tough and patriotic soldiers who are there with him for support; Lieutenant Chinmay (Allu Sirish) and Captain Aadhiselvam (Sudheer Karamana) are two of such men whom he meets and has his attention very soon. But Mohammed Akram Raja is determined to win this war and go home – well, so is Sahadevan.
The defence of 1971: Beyond Borders :: The movie’s best action sequences involve one with the battle tanks, and another one which has the two commanders going at each other in the end, even with the extra punch of heroism making both sequences strange at times – heroism without intelligence is not a quality that a hero should go for, and that makes one less a hero and more of a daredevil. The visuals are really good here, and there are some touching moments, which successfully make one feel for the troops as well as bring a certain amount of patriotism to keep the flame strong enough. The scenes of war deserves the appreciation, as it only gets better these days; yet there is the feeling that each of them could have been better. As it is said in Sir Walter Scott’s Lochinvar, “So daring in love, and so dauntless in war” – these are the qualities that determine the two main characters here, and after the deep consideration that war is meaningless, they will fight to death for their respective nations, obeying orders. The intention here seems to be good, as well as true – just not enough of the best application of ideas.
The claws of flaw :: There is that feeling of having seen all these before, especially with three movies already with Mohanlal playing the main character – Keerthi Chakra, Kurukshetra and Kandahar, along with the Prithviraj Starrer Picket 43. Except for having Mohanlal instead of Prithviraj, this one is surely closer to the last one, giving the idea that you can’t blame it on the enemy country, and it is all because of war. So, in one way or the other, it is patriotism which is responsible for the deaths of many people in more than one nation. Even in the opening credits, there is that long narration which won’t seem to make much of a difference as we go through the movie that touches not much of the same. The movie also doesn’t maintain the pace all the time, and there is too much repetition in store. The heroism displayed in this movie is also overdone, especially considering the fact that it tries to prove that this is all for the nation rather than being personal. The stereotypes also keep rushing, and we see an emotional side dependent on the same with less battle plans and too much lost between the meaninglessness of war and patriotism.
Performers of the soul :: Playing two characters, the son and the father, Colonel Mahadevan and Major Sahadevan, this one has been made for Mohanlal yet again. Major Mahadevan is not a character that Keralites as well as other Malayalam movie lovers will forget for a long time, and this one goes back to bring the prequel tale. This is no tough job for Mohanlal who controls this one, even though the father character is certainly inferior to the son – there are too many sequences which just seem to contradict the situations here for him. Allu Arjun’s younger brother, Allu Sirish also makes his Malayalam debut in this flick – there has been no shortage of dubbed movies of his brother getting success here, and lets hope that this will follow up with more from him; here he surely has our attention. But it is Arunoday Singh who leaves the best mark here – he shines as the Pakistani commander, and could use more of such roles with material to perform. All the female characters are left with not much to do in this movie.
How it finishes :: There has been some great success for Malayalam movies recently, most prominent ones among them being Mohanlal starrers themselves, Pulimurugan, Oppam and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, all three belonging to three different categories of action, thriller and drama respectively. Prithviraj’s Ezra had also went on to become the highest grossing horror movie of all time in the industry. Then, here is the war genre being explored yet again by Mohanlal – Major Ravi combination again. With The Great Father doing great job at the box-office, and the movies like Take Off staying there due to the excellence in making, 1971: Beyond Borders was to face some competition, but during this holiday season, it could stay there for some time easily – it is sure to do that for sure, and has the usual ingredients need for a movie in this genre, but there was always the scope to make this a better movie; this chance has been missed.
Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Major Ravi
Starring: Mohanlal, Arunoday Singh, Allu Sirish, Renji Panicker, Sudheer Karamana, Devan Asha Sarath, Priyanka Agrawal, Srushti Dange, Neha Khan, Saiju Kurup as Gunner Nathan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Zoya Zayed Khan, Pradeep Chandran, Krishna Kumar, Manikuttan, Shafeeq Rahman, Sudhir Sukumaran, Kannan Pattambi
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.